On travel

by Roger Ebert

Many people know me from my television work, and still others read my film reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times. This popularity, based largely on my having been in the right place at the right time, allows me to travel across the land quite a bit, giving speeches and appearing as a quasi-celebrity.

As I travel, I get to see some of America's most dismal cities... from Eugene, Oregon to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. These visits give me a chance to enjoy the comforts of room service and the film-goer's best friend: "Spectravision."

Spectravision, we are told, is the first wave of a technological revolution that will overtake hotel room entertainment. No longer will surly bellhops procure zaftig young women for restless conventioners. On-demand entertainment will zip to your room from Spectravision central, and be played on your TV with startling clarity. Spectravision is being embraced by the hospitality industry, we read, because it provides low costs to the hotelier and convenience to the lodger.

But how good is Spectravision? During a recent demonstration, I breezed through all of the movies on the "Comedy," "Action," "Drama," and "Still in Theaters" channels, leaving only the offerings listed under "Adult." These were uniformly disappointing. Why, for example, do Spectravision directors limit the actual number of penetration shots to the bare minimum. Modern hotel audiences are too sophisticated to be fooled by the overabundance of reaction shots — which usually just show the man grimacing distastefully — or by oddly-spliced shots featuring just the top of the woman's head, etc. What exactly are the people at Spectravision protecting us from?

Second, why isn't there more frequent rotation of the selections? Houston 500 — World's Biggest Gang Bang 3 features the charismatic Houston in her best-known role. But the plot, in which 620 sickos line up to penetrate her, offers little in the way of titillation or erotica. Let's see a little variety.

And speaking of variety, I fail to see why the films offered cater only to straight white men. Where's the chocolate thunder? The manlove? Is a hotel room away from home not the place to enjoy such fantasies? Let's face it: Show business is a business. Why don't the entertainment companies boost their business prospects by joining the 21st century?

We, the American people, are ready, Spectravision. Are you?

Thanks, and happy traveling.

Roger Ebert

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